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Wichman v. Warden

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

July 9, 2018

DILLION WICHMAN, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The petition of Dillion Wichman (“Wichman”) for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. JCU 17-09-0012. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Wichman's habeas petition is denied.

         A. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam), or of credit-earning class, Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644-45 (7th Cir. 2001), without due process. The due process requirement is satisfied with the issuance of advance written notice of the charges, a limited opportunity to present evidence to an impartial decision-maker, a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the evidence justifying it, and “some evidence in the record” to support the finding of guilt. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On September 6, 2017, Sergeant Mitchell Young issued a Report of Conduct charging Wichman with possession of a cell phone in violation of Code A-121. The Report of Conduct states:

On 09-6-2017, I Sergeant Young the Facility Investigator, at approximately 0900 had reason to believe that there was a cell phone hidden in Offender Wichman, Dillion #263994 mattress. Offender Wichman's bunk area and mattress was searched. There was a small hole in the pillow area of the mattress. Upon first searching the mattress nothing was found. A cell scence[1] was used by laying it across two chairs and Offender Wichman's mattress was slid underneath. The cell scence buzzed indicating that there was another object inside the mattress. Upon further search a cell phone was found inside in the built in pillow area. It was in the mattress stuffing with extra stuffing sewn around it.

         Sergeant Stephen Jeter completed an Incident Report Form, which provides:

On 09/6/2017 at approximately 0930 while assisting Sgt Mitchell Young with a search of offender Wichman, Dillion #263994 mattress I witnessed Sgt Young find a small hole in the pillow area of the mattress and once he inspected it further there was further internal holes and manipulated stuffing with a cell phone inside. End of statement.

         Wichman was first notified of the charge on September 6, 2017, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening Officer noted that Wichman requested a statement from offender Ebb Howard as well as the cell phone. On September 12, 2017, Wichman was screened again, and he again requested a statement from Ebb Howard and photos of the cell phone and mattress. Offender Howard submitted a statement that, “I never seen any cell phone use by offender Wichman.” Wichman produced a statement from JCU Receiving Officer Wassen that states:

Mattresses are placed in the dorm as needed and replaced as needed. Mattresses are only issued on arrival if their bunk does not already have a mattress. We currently do not have a bunk inspection for mattresses. Bunks are fitted with mattresses as needed.

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on September 22, 2017, and noted that Wichman stated, “On 09/6/2017 I was given a hearing date of 9/7/2017 and not notified of a postponement and the cell sense was used on the walls before going to my dorm and bed area. Anyone could have put their mattress on my bunk. They are not assigned to us at JCU.” The Hearing Officer then determined that Wichman had violated Code A-121, stating, “The cell phone in question was sewn into the mattress that Wichman had on his bunk. The cell phone even had charge on it to turn it on along with a cell phone charger. Offenders are responsible for their living area.” The sanctions imposed included the deprivation of 180 days of earned credit time and the demotion from credit class I to credit class II.

         Wichman filed an appeal to the Facility Head, who modified the sanction to a loss of 60 days of earned credit time and the demotion of one credit class. Wichman then appealed to the Final Review Authority, who denied it on November 28, 2017

         C. ...


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